Are you in charge of updating your company’s website, or are you the owner of a small or medium sized business and you’re also wearing the hat of webmaster? If so, then you know how important it is to optimize your site so that Google’s search bots can easily crawl and understand the content on your site.
Effective optimization can often be the difference between your site ranking prominently on page number one of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) or someplace where nobody will ever click through.
One of the best and free tools for search engine optimization (SEO) is known as Google Data Highlighter. This is a tool webmasters use to help Google’s search algorithm learn more about the unique structure of the data on webpages. Users simply utilize the highlighter to mark data fields on their website. Once this is done, Google can then present the marked data in the most attractive way possible in the search results and in other Google services.
How does Google use Data Highlighter?
The data that is tagged using the highlighter is noticed by Google after it crawls the site in question. Afterwards, the information is used by Google to create rich snippets in search results.
What are Rich Snippets?
Rich Snippets are bits of text, and sometimes graphics, that appear in the search results for a site in question. They provide a lot of extra information and are also eye catching. An example would be a search result for a movie or a television program. A result using rich snippets can provide details such as the star rating of the program, a brief synopsis about the movie or the episode, etc. It may even contain the names of the cast members involved in the production.
The below example displays a rich snippet for the movie “Black or White” for the search term: Black or White movie 80027.
Why is this Important?
Well, contrast this with a search result that featured nothing but the bare and unadorned name of the program. In almost all cases, people will click on the results with the extra information provided by the rich snippets. Therefore, results that include rich snippets will consistently achieve higher click-through-rates (CTR) than those without them.
What Kinds of Data can be Marked Up?
Currently, Google’s Data Highlighter tool allows for Articles, Book Reviews, Events, Local Businesses, Movies, Products, Restaurants, Software Applications and TV Episodes to be marked up:
How and Where is Mark Up Used?
The first step is to teach Data Highlighter which pages on the site have relevant data. To do this, a page set is created. This page set is a group of pages on a site that have consistently displayed data and related URL’s. Once the page sets have been created, Highlighter will teach Google about the data on the page, and the webmaster is off and running on the path to SEO dominance.
Simply log into your website’s Google Webmaster Tools, click on “Search Appearance”, and then on “Data Highlighter”, and there you go. You can start highlighting data by clicking on the big read box on the right side:
Data Highlighter is a robust tool that is proven to improve click-through-rates and website page rankings for anyone that chooses to make use of it. It’s 100% free, and it can help you increase organic search traffic from Google. Sort of a no-brainer if you ask me!
Learn more about Google Data Highlighter in our complimentary February 18th webinar entitled: Search Engine Optimization Audit: Benchmark, Measure, Audit and Prove, and in our February 26th 3-hour Web Seminar entitled: SEO 201 Online Workshop – Power Boost Your Visibility on Google.
About the Author
Chris Raulf is founder of Boulder SEO Marketing, a boutique SEO training and consulting agency located in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. Chris and his team assist local, national as well as international clients with all of their SEO, social media and content marketing needs.
Chris has 18+ years of digital marketing expertise under his belt. The Online Marketing Institute added him to their “Top 40+ Digital Strategists in Marketing for 2014” list and Readz recently listed Boulder SEO Marketing as a “Top 30 SEO Agency”.